ASRI Kids is the brainchild of a collaboration between Health in Harmony, ASRI, and a family who volunteered with Klinik ASRI in the summer of 2011. After becoming friends with the local kids, teenagers Lucia and Ana Sofia Amieva-Wang realized that most of the children had never visited Gunung Palung, the local National Park. With the goal to educate local children about forest stewardship and provide them with the opportunity to visit pristine rainforest ecosystems, “ASRI Kids” was born.
In June 2012, the inaugural session of ASRI Kids took place with classes of 20-25 boys and girls, ages 4 – 19, who attended classes about forest importance, global biodiversity, tree planting and care, trash and proper disposal, basic hygiene, and sustainable wood harvesting. The program continues to grow each year, now with hundreds of kids involved in the program. ASRI Kids also have the opportunity to visit an organic farm and a reforestation site with the program.
Guest speakers provide the children with an opportunity to ask specific questions to Indonesian researchers, experts in the field of environmental conservation. The program also features a yearly trip to Tanjung Puting, an orangutan reserve in Central Kalimantan, for the best students in each class. Many of the children have never been on an airplane or seen orangutans up close, even though they live in villages bordering the rainforest. The children hike on the preserve, observe orangutans, and write reflections on their trip; later giving presentations to parents and ASRI staff on their experience.
ASRI Kids has created a way for children to grow up with a profound understanding of the rain forest biology in their backyard and the importance of ecological stewardship.